Divorce Lessons From Our Children

negatively about her in front of their children.They have two children who are now old enough to understand that it is wrong to criticize the other parent.

When Anna heard these negative sentiments, it brought her right back to their divorce and the old feelings and pain from the past resurfaced.She thought that difficult time was behind them.

As Anna’s blood boiled, she started firing back negative sentiments about her “EX,” in a knee-jerk reaction in front of the children.She caught herself and stopped.She then apologized to her children.Her daughter spoke up. “It’s okay Mom. You’re human and you are supposed to make mistakes.”Her twelve year old son said “Mom, do what you told me to do. Let it go and move on.Don’t focus on the negativity or things will just be worse.” They were right!

Parents may not expect to learn so much from their children, especially valuable life lessons.Anna thought back to a few days before when her son was teaching her to spell a silly word.This time the lessons from her children were about letting go and forgiveness.

Briefly, the dynamics of parental alienation typically surface during and after a divorce and involve the active, alienation of the child from one parent by the other parent.

Parental alienation may have negative psychological effects on the children when a parent makes derogatory remarks about the other parent in front of the children.If the goal of one parent is to alienate the other parent, they may succeed.This may, however, result in alienating the child from themselves.

If children are taught that this behavior is acceptable, they may have a tendency to repeat that behavior into adulthood. Children can feel uncomfortable, withdrawn and may emotionally shut down.They may not want to open up to the parent who is making disparaging comments.

How should a parent deal with this behavior from the other parent?

1. Don’t engage in the same behavior by saying negative things about your ex-spouse.

2. Remember that you cannot control what the other parent does or says. You can only control your own behavior.

3. Some ex-spouses cannot let go of the past and every so often it comes up. But, it’s your reaction to the situation that matters.

4. You can tell your children that it’s not okay for one parent to speak negatively about the other parent.

5. Talk to your children about how they are feeling.

6. Express to your children that they may discuss anything related to the divorce without negative consequences. Children need to know they have one parent who is a safe sounding board.

7. If your children need a safe place to discuss these issues, consider individual counseling, if family counseling is not possible.

In a California divorce, a marriage is dissolved by determining the division of property, spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation rights. The written version of this judgment is the legally binding court order that declares that your marriage is officially over. It is called the final judgment of dissolution of marriage. It is also referred to as a divorce decree or a decree of marital dissolution. In the divorce decree, parties can incorporate language prohibiting derogatory comments about the other parent.This provision can be worded such that “Neither party shall make derogatory or disparaging remarks about the other to or in the presence of, or within the hearing of any minor child.”

Although a divorce decree may contain such language and can be enforced through contempt actions or other orders requiring one party or the other to perform as ordered in the agreement, parenting and respect should come from the home not the courtroom.

We take for granted the simple yet powerful lessons we can learn from our children. Our children can teach us about forgiveness and being happy. Anyone who has ever had a child knows that they have so much to teach us about life and happiness. They experience it effortlessly.

Letting go is not easy when you have been hurt.However, anger and attempting to hurt your former spouse will only harm your children. Anna’s children reminded her that letting go of anger and having forgiveness is a powerful gift for both parents and children.

Parenting is a team effort.Making derogatory comments only undermines a child’s sense of security and stability. Examples of team-work and co-parenting are shown in the “I Am Divorced” books.The books entitled “I Am Divorced … But I’m Still Me: A Child’s View of Divorce - Nick’s Story” and “I Am Divorced … But I’m Still Me: A Child’s View of Divorce - Julianna’s Story,” send a message to co-parent and communicate for the benefit of the children in a divorce.

Amie Greenberg, JD, MBA and her mother Barbara Greenberg, MD, authored "I Am Divorced … But I’m Still Me” books after personally and professionally experiencing the impact of divorce. They recognized a need to acknowledge how children viewed their world before, during and after divorce. Their hope is to help other families who are going through the pain of divorce. You can contact Amie for legal services at http://www.Libertaslaw.com. Follow her on FB at http://tinyurl.com/buwe2gk, http://tinyurl.com/bodu2b2 and Twitter @4childofdivorce


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